Sweet & Savory Life

Category: Health & Wellness (page 1 of 3)

28 to Great Challenge: Days 2 & 3

28 day barre challenge | sweetandsavorylife.com

Woohoo! Days 2 and 3 — done! Yesterday was our two-year anniversary (aw) so I decided that I would take my rest day. We had a delicious dinner at a local gem and I savored every bite. I was sore from Day 1, so that made me happy. I know that I am still in the beginning stages of this program, but I just feel so inspired to keep going. I haven’t felt that way in a really long time and it’s very refreshing!

For Day 3, I did a 60 minute total body workout and wow. It. Kicked. My. Butt. I didn’t even have the exercise ball or hand weights required (on my shopping list). There was lots of stretching, pose-holding, and pulses. Sometimes the movements look small, but they feel humongous.

One thing I am grateful for lately is how mindful I’ve been about eating healthier meals and snacks and drinking water. I know it sounds cliche, but choosing to be happy leads to better decision making. At least it does for me.

25 more days to go!



Learn more about barre3.

* Read my previous posts about the 28 to Great Challenge.

28 to Great Challenge: Day 1


I had to write a quick post about my new favorite thing: barre3! Barre3 is a chain of brick and mortar studios across the US that teach the barre method (workouts based on the principles of ballet that also mix in a healthy dose of yoga and pilates). I’m sure you’ve heard about studios popping up all over the US that teach barre workouts, but if you’re like me, the nearest one is probably over 100 miles away…

But! There is hope! What makes barre3 awesome is that for a low monthly price (cheaper than your Starbucks addiction) you can access all their workouts online. Your membership also includes tailored workout programs and an arsenal of recipes. The website is clean and easy to use (pick your workouts based on how much time you have!), and not to mention… the branding is spectacular.

I signed up for a $15/month subscription last night and went ahead and started one of their regimens: 28 to Great. I did my first workout this evening and it blew me away. Only 30 minutes long, but wow, my legs are aching. I love being sore after a good workout! I really feel like I needed to jazz things up a bit and barre3 was just the fresh take I needed. If you’re in a workout rut and have been needing to try something new, I encourage you to poke around their website.

Tomorrow I have a 60 minute workout… this should be interesting! Here’s to 27 more days!


P.S. I think this goes without saying, but barre3 has no idea who I am and this is not a paid ad. I came across their website while reading a long-time favorite blog of mine (Eat, Live, Run) and the rest is history! Now I’m just hoping that the cellulite on the back of my thighs will be history, too.

Being Kind: 8 things I love about my body

8 things I love about myself | sweetandsavorylife.com

Lately I’ve really been taking seriously the art of loving myself. In my most recent health update, I almost didn’t go to bootcamp this morning., I realized the following:

*I am not being as kind to myself as I should be.

*Little choices make a big difference, if you let them all add up.

*My perception of my body (and how I have thought it should look for a long time) is way off-kilter. I am learning to understand the importance of loving the body I have today – not the body I might have in three months or the body I had three years ago – the body I have right now.

Pretty big revelations, if you ask me. As always, there is more churning around in my mind when it comes to the topics of fitness and the mind/body balance, but overall I’m enjoying my current mental state. It’s forgiving, accountable, and loving. Though some days are much easier than others, I am learning on the “easy” days that I’m happier because I’ve consecutively made positive choices for myself (and in turn, am loving myself). Little things like drinking lots of water, going for an afternoon walk, slicing an apple… results in me feeling very present in my life. It’s a very euphoric kind of feeling that I do my best to hold onto.

Also, I weighed myself last Friday and I have lost 6.6 pounds, down to 159.4. I am noticing small changes in the mirror as well as my energy levels – things are clicking and I am very proud of myself. Honestly, that feels better than the number on the scale. My friend, Do, who I’ve mentioned here before, left me an eye-opening comment the other day. She said, “Weight gain is never permanent to me; same goes for weight loss. Neither are permanent!” This statement is so true. There is never a point where I’ll be “done” with being healthy. It’s a life-long commitment.

I will lose weight.

I will gain weight.

I will lose weight again.

I will gain weight again.

I will get older and my body will change.

And what matters most is what I choose to do right now.

Choices made frequently become habit – what kind of habits am I aiming to form? Healthy ones. Healthy chioces that will become habit, so that when I gain weight (hello, motherhood) I will be able to lose it. So that when I get a more strenuous job (hello, stressful 50 hour workweeks) I will still be motivated to exercise. These things are important to me and deserve attention because my body deserves to be tended to, nourished and taken care of. It’s the only one I’ve got, and we have a lot of years ahead of us.

As usual, what set out to be a simple list turned out to be wordier update than I anticipated. But it’s so good to type my thoughts out – therapeutic, even. So, like I was saying when I began this post, I am actively practicing the art of being kind to myself. Lately I’ve been contemplating the physical attributes about my body that I really do love, and have always loved, and thought I’d challenge you to do the same. Even if you try to think one positive thing about yourself and the negativity vultures immediately swoop in, I encourage you to ignore them for a few minutes today and make your own list of what you love about your body. And then hang it on your bathroom mirror. Or your fridge. Or just fold it up and put it in an envelope and mail it to yourself.

I dare you.

Here’s my list: 8 things I love about my body.

1. My calves. They are huge, and as a girl I have never been deterred by this. I still love to wear heels when the mood (or occasion) strikes and every now and then I flex the muscles just to feel how hard they are. It makes me feel strong.

2. The freckles that decorate my shoulders. I am very fair skinned and still have freckles on my cheeks and shoulders. In the summer, they become more prominent and I love them. They make me feel like a kid.

3. My feet in general. They might be the daintiest thing on my body (although I wear a size 9).

4. My hair. Even the grey ones.

5. My lips. Very full.

6. My forearms. Weird, I know.

7. My boobs. This is definitely a personal thing (meaning I don’t expect anyone to understand or appreciate my lady lumps like I do). I have never, ever, wanted them to be any different than they are.

and last, but not least…

8. My schnozz! Frames the face, as they say.

Now you go.

What do you love about your body? What makes you unique? (Newsflash–you are.) Chew on it. See what you reveal to yourself.


I almost didn’t go to boot camp this morning.


It’s 4:57 AM. My alarm is going off. I am smacked in the face with sleepy, and literally cannot picture myself getting out of bed and going to boot camp. I think, “Just sleep, Sarah. You need the rest.” It sounds so real and so right, that I confirm, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. How I don’t really need “the rest” because I went to bed at 10:30 PM and slept like a rock last night. That if I miss boot camp, I will feel guilty throughout the day. As I laid there in bed, bargaining with myself, I knew this to be 100% true. I did what I had minutes before deemed unthinkable, and got dressed.

I’m well overdo for a health/fitness update. Been putting it off for a while now for quite a few reasons. None of them are good, so I’ll spare you. The last update I gave you was on December 2, 2012 when I posted I AM ENOUGH: The first steps on my health journey. I opened up to you about how vulnerable I’d become about my (progressive) weight gain and how it was affecting me emotionally. I revealed how much I weighed, why I wanted to change my habits, and also my need to accept my body just as it was – before I did anything to alter it. I talked about eating healthier and starting a boot camp class, and when I submitted that post I felt really good about my outlook. I felt it was positive, but without high expectations. As you probably know, when it comes to any kind of lifestyle change, it’s hard not to set yourself up for failure by raising the bar too high. Of course, we never mean to do this. It just happens.

Even though I just said that my outlook was positive and without high expectations, looking back, I now know that only half of that statement is true. I was positive, and I did have high expectations. Damn. As I sit here now typing this truth to you, I can’t help but feel like I let myself down (even though that is not true). Over the past few months I have regularly retreated to my negative, self-shaming place where I remind myself of the following:

1. All the times I cracked and ate unhealthily or had a celebratory moment.

2. How I’ve been boot campin’ it up for almost three months now with nothing to show for it.

3. That I’ll never have what my mind’s eye perceives a healthy body to be, because I don’t deserve it.

4. This is all easier for everyone else. No one understands my struggle.

What a mess. All those statements I have felt and believed, but are completely false. In I AM ENOUGH, I spoke about self-acceptance, but the truth is that an undertaking of that size is not something that can be checked off a list and considered “done” in an instant.

“I now love my body, even my muffin top that hangs over my size 14 jeans.”

Nope. It’s just not that easy. It is a daily process. Changing clothes in front of the bathroom mirror and looking at your body with appreciation, not depreciation can be a tall order on a bad day. I’ve had quite a few bad days over the past three months. Change is never easy – especially changing how you perceive yourself.

Let’s break down my go-to self-shaming with honesty and empathy. Maybe you tell yourself some of the same things? Whether your change is related to weight loss or something else, I’ve learned that anytime negativity is part of my mindset my progress time is cut in half. If not more. It’s so important to get to the root of where the shaming comes from, and why it is done. As Brene Brown says, light must be shone in all the dark corners.

1. Indulgent moments, splurge meals, celebration and the like. During the holidays, I ate like it was the holidays. Once or twice a week, I’d have some kind of splurge meal with Shelton, usually on the weekends. There was a lot to celebrate over the past few months, what with my best friend getting married (bachelorette party + wedding). Could I have splurged less? Yes. Could I have celebrated less? A resounding NO. On this health journey I am learning that regret is akin to poison. It just brings me down like none other.

How to battle regret when it starts hitting: focus on the now – the choices you can make right-this-second that are positive. Pour a glass of water, eat an apple, do 30 jumping jacks. We all know that the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Put that truth to work. Remember that you are human, and it doesn’t matter what has transpired. It only matters what happens now.

2. The amount of work put in compared to perceived “results” (or lack thereof). Yes, I’ve been working out regularly for three months and yes, my thighs still jiggle. It’s hard not to think that it’s all for nothing. That no matter what I do, my body isn’t going to change. It’s so incredibly easy to hone in on what you don’t have instead of what you do have. We all want tangible proof though, don’t we? We want our clothes to be a bit baggier, people to notice our change, and so on. It’s exhausting for me though – this vicious cycle I get so easily caught up in.

Instead of obsessing on what you lack, tell yourself what you have. I say tell, not remind, because sometimes I really have to tell-off my inner critic a lot. Reminders don’t always work – they can be counteracted. Tell yourself what you’ve got, as many times as it takes.

“It is now part of my routine to work out, I’m proud of that.”

“I’ve learned to cook many new healthy meals that I wouldn’t have before.”

“I have a better understanding of myself, and right now that’s worth more than fitting into my high school jeans. If I keep loving myself like this, I’ll eventually get there.”

3. That what I see in the mirror is not how I picture myself in my head, and is also no where close to how I think I should look. The belief that I do not have a perfect body yet because I don’t deserve one. I have a very specific image of myself in my mind, and also another image of how I believe I would look if I was perfectly skinny. Guess what. The self-image I have of myself is off base, and also my visualized my “perfect” body is not attainable. Go with me on this.

While I wholeheartedly believe that visions can be road maps, when it comes to something so personal as my body, I am literally too close to it to see it objectively. Craft projects are different. Recipes are different. Visualizing a clean junk drawer is different. My body is not a DIY project. My body is alive and moving and changing even when I feel it’s not. When I see myself tagged in pictures on Facebook, that’s me. That’s my body. That’s how I look from the side. It’s not a “bad picture” or a “bad angle.” It’s a moment, captured. Understanding this is what self-acceptance really means to me. Not constantly trying to match up what I picture in my head to what I see in the mirror, but really loving what’s real. The mental pictures are not real and they are not signs pointing me in the right direction. If anything, they’re detours and fruitless meandering paths. What is real is what I see with my eyes and know to be true in my heart. My head will jack me up every time.

Insert deep, grace-filled breath here.

I am going to let go of my visualized perfect body. The one I picture hundreds of times a day, the one I’ve been using as motivation to keep going. To combat my go-to metal images, I will focus on what is real in this moment, and also liberate myself from what “could be.” It’s entirely possible that whatever I can achieve physically with my body is more than I could ever project. I accept and welcome “the unknown” in so many other parts of my life. This should be no different.

Wow. Just typing that I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

4. The idea that living a healthy lifestyle is easy for everyone but me, and that no one understands my struggle. Granted, I’m feeling very mentally balanced as I write this so that’s why I am all “zen,” but I do know that what looks to be easy hardly ever is. If it was easy to practice this lifestyle, no one would be obese and we’d live in a world without Jillian Michaels. I compare myself so much, to my friends, actresses, random girls I see when I’m running errands. It’s endless. Some days it seems like everyone else is so effortlessly thin, and basically what I deduce is that something is right with them and wrong with me. I ask myself, “What are they doing right?” and then “What am I doing wrong?” Goodness. For the most part I consider “right” and “wrong” to be four letter words. I even wrote about the idea of “right” in this post, There is no such thing as “the right time.”

Just because my friends and family are more fit than I perceive myself to be, that does not mean I understand all their daily struggles, some of which may include their own self-perceptions. Just because I see a girl at Target that looks incredible (to me) in her leggings, that does not mean she works out every day or even works out at all. She doesn’t have some secret to weight loss. She’s just living her life, shopping at Target. The end.

To live in the world is to be a part of that world. That means being surrounded by many different people. Some big, some little, some I know really well, some I don’t know at all. I shouldn’t fill in the blanks to their life like a Mad Lib. I am not them. I do not understand them. Any time I spend trying to figure them out is time I could be spending on figuring myself out. I don’t want to go on detours. I want to stay on track as much as possible. I want to know and love myself more than anything else, more than spending energy analyzing things I will never fully understand. I want to be present.

As I read over my words, I know that I have come further in the past three months than I ever have before. I feel that this mindset is a part of who I am now. I have never been able to stay committed to a workout/diet plan for longer than a month (truthfully) and now I feel the self-motivation to keep going. After February, I intend to mix up my workouts a bit and spend more time practicing the breakthroughs I’ve had. It is a journey, and not a short one. But it’s okay, because at the end of each day, I like it. I like the opportunity to challenge myself (both mentally and physically) in this way and want to experience more so that I can learn more. So that in turn I can write more. It really is that simple, even though fully loving myself everyday is a practice. But it’s one that I’m getting better at, and to me, that is success.


I AM ENOUGH: The first steps on my health journey

Update: Read Part Two Here! (02.21.13)

So. I just watched a really inspiring video about embracing vulnerability, and am compelled to share some thoughts with you on the matter. I think there are all kinds of vulnerability out there, but the one that I seem to be shying away from recently is the topic of my weight and evolving self-image.

In the video, Dr. Brene Brown talks about how, as a society, we are very accustomed to numbing vulnerability, as well as shame and a host of what I like to call the emotions that just make you feel like shit. Here’s the thing though: your brain can’t selectively numb emotions. You brain is pretty much an equal opportunity numb-er, if that’s the route you’re taking. Numbing vulnerability also means you’re numbing joy… and all the other good feelings. By doing that, you’re also halting any personal growth that could take place.

We all know that moments of weakness, vulnerability and uncertainty… are infinitely important for growth. So, when you choose to feel those hard feelings, truly experience the internal struggle of it all, you are growing. It’s good, though it does not feel like that in the beginning. I think we can all attest to a difficult time in the past that we feel has shaped our future in a positive way–even if that positive reason wasn’t truly understood until much later.

I am so much more vulnerable these days than I have ever been before. I have weathered many seasons where I was constantly in “protection mode.” And I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable to anyone. I thought that I was preserving myself, and I guess in a way I was, but when I look back at those days now all I see is a girl sitting all alone in a prison she built with her own two hands. I am glad protection mode isn’t my default anymore. I’m proud of myself that I can be vulnerable, but not feel weak. I am happy that I can feel the hard emotions as well as the easy, happy emotions. Sure, some days I do feel like an ocean of emotion, but I’m still learning how to navigate the waters.

The real reason for this post: my weight gain. Since graduating high school in 2006, I have roughly gained 30 pounds. It’s been gradual, but over the past year I’ve felt like it’s really spiked. Some days my confidence is high. Some days it is not, and I feel uncomfortable in my skin. I am not a fan of those days. That being said, I have been at a crossroads for quite some time–experiencing a swirl of emotions about it all. I can’t keep gaining, on average, five pounds a year.

Right now I weigh 165 pounds. At 5’3″, that is not an ideal weight to be at. Numbers are very triggering for me–they always have been. If I’m being truly honest with you, I’m not excited to hit “Publish” on this post, knowing that these numbers will be out there for others to read. My knee jerk reactions are… Who will read this? Who will judge me? What will they think?

But, here’s the thing. In my heart of hearts, I know that by skirting the truth and not being wholeheartedly authentic, I am not being vulnerable. And by not being vulnerable, I could be numbing emotions of shame, guilt and… ceasing any opportunity for growth before I even get started on this journey to a healthier Sarah. That’s the last thing I want to do.

So. Here I am. I am 165 pounds and I accept myself the way I am–in this very moment, at this very weight. If I am not okay with myself right now, I will not magically be okay with myself tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now. I cannot shed my excess weight overnight, nor do I truly want to. It will be hard. There will be sacrifice.

It will be worth it.

I am proud of myself. I have already taken steps to be a healthier Sarah, and have plans to take more. I went to the gym today for a consultation and did 30 minutes worth of cardio. I was embarrassed to step on the scale and have a perfect stranger measure my waist, but embraced the process. I am signed up for three months worth of bootcamp classes, and I attend my first one next Tuesday. I will make a healthy shopping lists. Buy more ingredients for The Fresh 20 recipes in my inbox. Prepare meals for the week if I need to. I will drink lots of water.

I will go on this journey.

And I hope you’ll go on it with me. In Dr. Brown’s lecture, she talked about how those who live wholeheartedly feel as if vulnerability is a part of life–that it can get you from one place to another–and that’s how I feel right now. My vulnerability about my self image is a vessel in itself. I believe that if I honor my emotions and truly strap myself in the front seat of this roller coaster, I will experience more thrills along the way than pitfalls. At the end of the day, I will always choose to experience the raw emotion than no emotion at all. That is the only way that change will take place.

My goals for the upcoming week:

  • allow my body to rest (6+ hours of sleep a night)
  • got to the gym 3-5 times
  • no carbonated beverages
  • to be more mindful of how I spend my idle time (I’d like to start meditating daily, even if only for 10 minutes)
  • to know when I lay my head down at night that I am happy with every decision I made that day (it’s not about a number on a scale)
And, I really want to continue to share my experiences with you. I will hold myself accountable to touch base on the topic of health/wellness/motivation at least once a week.

Vulnerably yours.


Update: Read Part Two Here! (02.21.13)

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